SIHMA's reflections and resolutions
2021 has been an important year for SIHMA staff in Cape Town, rich of new arrivals to the team. First of all we had the pleasure to collaborate with Nolwenn Marconnet, from the University of Copenhagen, Denemark, who conducted a remote internship in research and communication from September 2020 to January 2021. Also, Ginevra Gianardi from Italy joined our team and worked remotly from November 2020 to April 2021 and Maita Deborah Jena, from Zimbabwe, studying in Mauritus, who worked for SIHMA as an intern beginning in January 2021 and completing her work in June 2021. Then in April we had the priviledge to announce the arrive of our new junior researcher, Muluh Momasoh, at SIHMA, bolstering our research capacity in Cape Town. In May we had the pleasure to welcome our new researcher and coordinator of SIHMA’s new Johannesburg Office, Fr Eduardo Gabriel, who started at SIHMA officially in May 2021, as well as two remote interns from the United States, April Noelle, Mary Cascarelli who started to collaborate with us from the 31st of May until the 23rd of July. An in person intern from Norway, Victoria Jensen, then joined the team from the 14th of June for six month. In October 2021 Nicolette Pérez Verwer joined SIHMA team of Cape Town for a 3 months internship. She has been the first intern coming from Spain through the new collaboration established between SIHMA and the University of Valencia. This new partnership allowed us to futher welcome Marzia Marzenta and Ángela Hernández Lopez the new interns who will help us until next Februray 2022. Finally, we had the enormous pleasure to welcome in the SIHMA family two new recently ordained missionaries, Fr. Constant Munkala and Fr John Kawisha, who arrived in Cape Town in October.
For SIHMA it is fundamental to offer the community, leaders and our team training about main issues related to migration. That’s why during the year we organised and participated in several training events in the form of on-line seminars, conferences and webinars. Some of the themes that we dealt with have been: internally displaced communities in Nigeria, transnational organised crime, human traffiking, missing migrants, refugee law, climate change and migration, and many others.
Our office dealt with several tasks during 2021. We went on publishing on our Blog on the Move about events, news, press reviews and posts. Some of the topics of our publications related to the Madagascar climate change crisis, the access to education for unaccompained migrant minors, the differences in mental health among migrants and non-migrants in South Africa, the exclusion of migrants women in Africa from housing opportunities, climate and migration, migration and integration, the volcano eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo and many other themes.
We continued with the editing and publication of the African Human Mobility Review (AHMR), our interdisciplinary peer-reviewed on-line journal created to encourage and facilitate the study of all aspects (socio-economic, political, legislative and developmental) of human mobility in Africa, through our collaboration with the University of the Western Cape. This year we published the AHMR Volume 7, Number 1, January-April 2021, the AHMR Volume 7, Number 2, May-August 2021 and the AHMR Volume 7, Number 3, September-December 2020
Our research activity also included the dissemination of information about migration in Africa through the realisation of research agendas, working papers and reports. The topics that we worked on are: human mobility in Africa, migration policy, the impact of migration on mental health, xenophobia and afrophobia, climate change and migration, gender issues and vulnerable minors.
SIHMA is also involved in projects across the African Continent in different areas related to migration. This has led us to engage in new partnerships this year. Firstly, we welcomed with great interest the opportunity to support a project in Sierra Leone that aims to make migratory realities returnees to Sierra Leone visible and help them tell their stories. This collaboration aims to realise a documentary about experiences of migrants deported to their country of origin, Sierra Leone, with the aim to inform viewers about the issue of deportation and its ramifications. Secondly, on the 1st of August 2021 our project at St Patricks La Rochelle Health Centre got off the ground. The project was designed to develop a Community Health Centre to provide basic medical assistance and support to refugees, migrants, and indigent local South African communities in and around La Rochelle and Rosettenville.
The adminstrator of our Health Centre told us about the first activities implemented since the beginning of the project. She said: “Getting the doctors and nurses together for the health screening campaign and trying to schedule their times, made me realize just how much… doctors and nurses offer up as frontline workers especially in this time of this pandemic … When they provided me with their schedules and availability for the Health centre … It showed me that although they work those long hours they were willing to come and give 2-3 hours at the centre as well … For the events the Health centre reached out to organisations such as CATHCA, Caritas and Beinvenu Shelter to have them take advantage of the initiatives taking place … So looking back, this has been a good year, with lots of benefactors benefiting from the campaigns. The mandate that was given was well executed.”
Moreover, the Administrator of SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Clinic also gave us a comment about the activities carried out since the start of the project. She told us that they: “learnt the importance of equipping the people most likely to come across trafficking cases with enough information to assist them in the identification and handling of the victims in the appropriate manner and dignity each victim deserves. As we rounded off the year with the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, we had the opportunity to impact young people from the Catechism classes with activities based on GBV campaign and human trafficking … We thus focused the activities on equipping young people who are silent observers of the violence around them with issues of respect, love and gender equality … they later commented on how they were impacted and how they had gained more knowledge from the campaign activities which they would share and utilise in their own communities … Our office hopes to run a study at the center next year. ”
The SIHMA Johannesburg Legal Clinic Legal Advisor added that: “The Legal Clinic was recently opened in October 2021 and has already undertaken to make a difference in people’s lives. We have already offered training on human trafficking to healthcare workers and social workers so that they can identify victims of human trafficking, as they are most likely to come across a victim due to the health consequences that victims deal with from the abuse … Apart from offering trainings, the SIHMA Legal Clinic also offers legal services to trafficking survivors. We were able to successfully legally assist a client who was so happy and satisfied. The matter was finalized as soon as possible. ”
RESOLUTIONS FOR 2022
The goals for 2022 of our SIHMA Legal Clinic is: “to engage more with other counter-human trafficking organizations and form partnerships, make submissions to reports on human trafficking relating to South Africa, publish information on human trafficking in South Africa, attend conferences on human trafficking and many more.” In 2022 they hope to make «an impact in the field of counter-human trafficking [, as well as] to be more involved with the communities, be active in schools and communities to educate and join the fight against human trafficking. ”
The hopes of our Health Centre based in La Rochelle, Johannesburg, for the new year is to: “be able to establish and attend to the urgent and important health needs of the people … the unfair practices towards foreigners and refugees would be challenged … Teenage Pregnancy, Malnutrition, hunger, victims of GBV and Human Trafficking are all areas that will be researched and the research will be done to begin to minimize this.”
2021 has been an enriching year for SIHMA. A lot of new and enlightening people joined our team and made it possible to continue to pursue our mission to conduct and disseminate research that contributes to the understanding of human mobility across Africa and informs policies that ensure the rights and dignity of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. For the new year we hope to keep the focus on our research activity to indentify needs, problems and good practices related to migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons with the aim to make them visible and to find a solution to their problems. With our research we also hope to reach an always wider audience to spread information about people on the move and to exercise a wider influence in policy making. We hope to enlarge our partnership network and our SIHMA team with enlightning people. The SIHMA team thanks all the people, organizations and institutions who collaborated with us this year and our readers too. We are looking forward to an even more exciting 2022. Thanks for your support, Happy New Year to all of YOU!